I think I've restarted this post four or five times now. I have a hard time putting into words everything Dad is to me. What both of my parents are to me. I never spend enough time giving credit where credit is due. So I figure I'll use my little soapbox on the internet to tell you about some of the things about my father.
My Dad is the epitome of the "self-made man." He had to grow up too fast, and become a brother, provider and guardian to his siblings. He did not have the easiest childhood, but I never heard him complain. Because I knew my father lost his own dad at a very young age, I grew up with a deeper appreciation of having both parents with me.
When I was a little girl, I spent so many hours as dad's little shadow. I'm pretty sure that's why I know how to do many more "masculine" things. I spent hours painting boats, carving out poorly shaped decoys, laying tile, sanding old cars, watching oil changes and tire rotations, gutting fish and figuring out how to not bend a nail with the hammer.
I found a love of books from both Mom and Dad. Mom led me to the novels and fiction love stories. Dad introduced me to historical novels, biographies and war memoirs. From there, I found a love of history and all things that time has forgotten.
Dad taught me to keep my eyes open to the world around me. I can often be caught craning my neck to see what year a muscle car is when it speeds by. Or looking up to the sky to see what type of jet is coming in to land at Dulles. I'll intentionally check the History or Military channels to see what's on. And Lord knows I am unable to resist a John Wayne movie. :)
More than the superficial, my Dad pushed me to be better. To not take the bullshit that life tends to throw, and instead find another way to reach your dreams. He never, ever gave up on me, even when it seemed that I'd never catch a break. He supported me and even suffered financially so that I would live more comfortably. I hope someday I can repay the favor.
Everyone is entitled to have a wonderful father, however, so many don't. So many don't even have a man to call their dad. I was incredibly lucky. I'm certain that when I was younger I had no idea how good I had it. When Dad and Mom would refuse to buy that thing, or let me stay out too late. When Dad would make me redo my makeup before school so I didn't look ridiculous. When Dad took me to buy my first car, that I had saved up a chunk of change for. It wasn't new or even within the decade old. But he taught me to value it and care for it, because it was my investment. Not just a gift to overlook. I had no idea how impactful those things would be today. And of course I'm sure there are things now... bits of advice or words of wisdom that I'll look back in ten years and say "thanks Dad, you were right."
But I'm still not so sure about you having them tighten my braces before prom... not cool. ;)
I love you Dad. I love you more than life. You're my hero. I hold you and Pop-Pop in my heart as the men I will compare all others to.